Effects of Colonialism on the Social Life of Baloch | Zameer Baloch

Effects of Colonialism on the Social Life of Baloch

Zameer Baloch

Colonization brings along with it the destruction of social, political and economic structures of the Native people. It changes every aspect of the indigenous peoples’ life; from thoughts and ideas to trade and personal property. As colonialism establishes, it divides the society on racial, religious, and lingual bases. The colonizer uses every possible means to sabotage the culture and identity of the native people. Along with the destruction of natives’ social life, the colonizers presence introduces numerous environmental changes that disturb the life structure of the native people. For instance, the European settlers, in the North America, are credited for bringing along with them diseases previously scarce on the Native land. According to a research published in the National humanities center, from 1616 to 1618, an epidemic claimed 75 percent of natives’ life, while, in 1630 half of the Huron and Iroquois around the great lake died of smallpox. Where-ever the European settlers set foot; diseases affected the young and older people like never before raising the ratio of natives mortality to highest peaks. When we see the colonization period of one hundred and thirty years in Algeria, sixty decades in Vietnam, or seventy years of Pakistani occupation in Balochistan, there is only a change of face. The policies of every colonizing settler remain the same no matter which territory or people it oppresses.

We have a long history before us to witness the impacts of colonization on the social life of the native Baloch people inhabiting the resource rich region namely Balochistan, that borders with Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Arabian Sea. Due to its geo-political importance, the imperialist powers have always had their eyes on Balochistan. When, in the nineteenth century, the British occupied the Sub-Continent, she, at the same time, laid her fists on Balochistan defeating Khan Mehrab Khan of the Kalat State. The occupation, however, wasn’t complete until 1876. It was in this very year that Balochistan became a full-fledged colony of the British Empire. British succeeded in colonizing the Baloch people by implementing various policies including the famous divide and rule. The political structure took a complete shift with Sandeman restructuring the Sardari System.

The British occupation in Balochistan came to an end on august 11th, 1947. After enjoying a short lived independence, Balochistan was once again occupied by the, now neo-colony of the west, Pakistani state on March 27th, 1948. Since then, a lot more structuring and re-structuring of the Baloch political, economic and social life has caused a, somewhat, complete destruction of Baloch way of life.

Power and Accountability

The first step that any colonizer considers while occupying any territory is to mentally enslave and make the considered nation feel inferior to the occupying one. During the colonial period exploiting policies are formulated by reviewing the contours and political situation. It is one of the most famous colonial tools introduced by British imperialists. After experiencing the Baloch society British introduced many policies like reshaping the tribal structure so that their selected Sardars exploit the people bringing disorder in the society. Reshaping the tribal structure not only allowed the colonizer to control the natives through their selected Sardars but aroused conflict among Baloch in the name of tribes. Consequently, these internal conflicts helped the colonizer to maintain its occupation. The same policies are still being practiced by Pakistan in Balochistan. Death squad- a gang of criminals turned facilitators of the military forces, are tasked to carry out extrajudicial killings or forced disappearances as part of political repression and genocide. Such squads are given complete authority to oppress people while they are exempted from all humanitarian laws. The natives are misbehaved with, beaten, and tortured to death by these state-sponsored groups if they speak up against the atrocities committed against them.

Divide and Rule

Division has always been one of the major problems or in other words ‘the weakest of points’ of the oppressed and colonized people. The settler, therefore, uses the famous policy of British Empire namely ‘the divide and rule policy’ to control the native people, while, they remain engaged in fighting their own people. In Balochistan the divide and rule policy was initially introduced by the imperialist British Empire. This very policy remains in use of the Pakistani think tanks to control the Baloch nation by dividing its power. The state has Created divisions in the name of religion i.e., a distinction of Zikri and Numazi Baloch. The languages of Baloch nation i.e., Brahvi and Balochi, are also used to create a rift among the Baloch people. The colonizer has played every card to divide the Baloch nation so that it must not have the strength and courage to revolt against Pakistani occupation.

Education system

As a result of colonization, the colonizer forms its own education system for natives, because they know physical control, alone, isn’t enough to subjugate a nation. So the oppressor uses Education as a tool to achieve social control over native people. As Frantz Fanon puts it, “In the colonial context, the colonizer does not stop his work of breaking in the colonized until the latter admits loudly and clearly the supremacy of colonizer.” When British Empire colonized Africa they misused education. The education system was used to remove the colonized people from their indigenous learning. Colonizers wanted the African people to be unaware of their history, culture, beliefs and should be useful as far as the economic development of the settler was concerned.

The Pakistani occupied Balochistan is experiencing the same education system. In the Pakistani textbooks, which are taught in Balochistan, Baloch do not exist before 1947.

Because the Pakistani settlers are well aware that if a Baloch is educated and acknowledge his norms, values, beliefs, history, and most importantly, the colonization of Pakistan; he will create a path and rebel against the occupation of his land by foreign settlers. Creating educational institutes is a part of these policies, these institutes are used to promote Pakistani ideologies and make course-oriented students which will serve Pakistani machinery. A course oriented education system is promoted in Balochistan to engage Baloch students in those state-created syllabus books which are used to deceit and keep reality vague and unclear.

Baloch youth needs to be familiar with this educational deception. They should study their culture, history, and books which will enable them to understand their problem as Baloch and allow them to think instead of being club followers. They need to understand that Pakistan is a colonial state that has occupied Baloch land on the verge of sword.

Societal conflict

As Frantz Fanon said in his book ‘wretched of the earth’, “The victim of colonization is always in a mental conflict and gets angry with small things. Sometimes he starts to rub off with his family or neighbors over undue things”. The colonial system is based on violence, though you are tortured with a gun, or stopped at check posts and humiliated. This violence and humiliation finds space in the mind of the native in forms of hatred and anger, which, the native gives way against his own people. In Baloch society, we usually see such things, people come down to kill each other for small domestic affairs, or sometimes for a piece of land. There is no denying that the main reason for these social conflicts is the colonial system. Which in turn insinuates a hatred and anger in natives’ hearts, but usually the anger is given way against the natives instead of the settlers. From the British Empire to Pakistani colonialism, there have been profound changes in Baloch society. Colonialism has always wrongly reflected the Baloch society, in order to keep the Baloch in a dark well and maintain their occupation and exploitation.

Pakistani occupation of Balochistan is purely based on violence and is aimed at controlling and exploiting Baloch resources. Baloch indigenous people need to understand the colonial policies in order to survive and counter them. A colonizer can never be a friend, nor does he come to develop infrastructure or educate you. There is not a single example of an imperialist who controls and expands its colonies for the sake of indigenous people. Though, he does promise to pick you educate and bring development; it only serves to justify his colonizing and enslaving indigenous people. The only purpose of colonization is to serve the economic, military, cultural and political interests of the colonizer.

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